Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

Learning To Grow In The Gospel

Colossians 1:9
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives … (NIVUK)

The birth of a baby is just the beginning of the process of growth to maturity.  The infant has a wonderful new body and mind but does not know how to use or control it.  In the same way, new Christians have all the potential of the life of God but are vulnerable until they have learned how to live as a mature adult.
Paul the Apostle knew all the dangers new believers would face (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  To be born again is a wonderful translation for the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13), but to become mature takes time, training, correction and lots of encouragement.  How was it going to happen, and who would help?  Paul was so far away, under house arrest and unable to travel to this new church.  So, he did two things: first he prayed for them, and secondly he sent a letter (the Epistle to the Colossians), - personally couriered by Tychicus who was accompanied by Onesimus (Colossians 4:7-9). At the same time, Paul ensured that the other two churches in the Lycos valley (in Laodicea and Hierapolis) facing the same issues, should also have the letter read there (Colossians 4:13-16).
Prayer, godly instruction, organisation and logistics all came together to help the churches resist wrong teaching and learn how to grow mature in Christ.  The message had to be delivered by people who could be trusted not to distort it and lead people astray.  Of course, the background to all this communication was prayer.  Paul trusted that God alone would guard them until the letter came, and He was growing them in faith.  That is why Paul prayed that the Holy Spirit's wise counsel would operate in the churches, that they would allow Him to fill them with truth and discernment.  However, prayer was only part of his responsibility.  Paul also knew that he had a part to play: he was under God's authority to write a letter to teach the truth and refute error (2 Timothy 4:2).  That letter was all part of God's work in their lives (and ours too!).
Self-centred Christians are a menace in the church.  They do not seem to understand that in addition to receiving from others, they must also give in accordance with God's will.  It all starts with prayer.  Action without prayer is as bad as prayer without being willing to act.  Yes, grace is all of God, but He wants His people to be work colleagues in the gospel.  Although they may know that principle, they remain inert.  They have never really understood that they are designed to have a mature role in Christ's kingdom: instead, they want to remain like spoon-fed infants (1 Corinthians 3:1-2).  What a scandal!  We cannot escape the Scripture that it is our responsibility to work with God so that the whole body of Christ grows up and functions maturely (Ephesians 4:15-16).  So, who will you speak to about Jesus today, who will you write to, who might receive a forwards copy of this Word@Work?  Pray about it, make the necessary decisions and do it; for His glory and the blessing of the church.

Dear Lord. Thank You that You are the greatest communicator and reveal all that we need to know through Your Word. Thank You also for those people You have used to teach, train, rebuke and correct me - so that I might grow up in my faith and become more useful to You. I am sorry when I have not helped others as I might. Please help me to see my responsibility to pray for people and then to communicate truth to them as guided by You. Convict me of the need to make decisions about this and to organise myself so that I can be truly useful to You in helping others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams